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GAMEDAY OPEN THREAD // FIVE REASONS: vs. Vanderbilt

1. The running game. The Commodores haven't had a 100-yard rusher since Cassen Jackson-Garrison ran for 119 against Ole Miss on Sept. 15. QB Chris Nickson, who might or might not start, has probably contributed to that by taking some of the carries that might go to a back. Overall, Vandy has run for 3.9 yards a carry. If you're going to be the Gamecock defense, the best way to do it is on the ground. The Commodores don't have the weapons.

2. Cory Boyd and Mike Davis. The Gamecock's two most impressive players on offense have combined for 178.6 yards of total offense a game this year -- on a team averaging 348.9 yards a game. Unless Vanderbilt has come up with a way to stop the two of them, it should be a long day for the 'Dores.

3. Quarterback controversy. What is the saying? If you have two quarterbacks, you don't have one quarterback. Bobby Johnson turned Weis-like about the signal-caller's identity over the last couple of weeks, as Chris Nickson and Mackenzi Adams vie for the starter's role.

4. Steve Spurrier. Spurrier doesn't lose to Vanderbilt. He's 14-0 against the 'Dores.

5. Momentum. Vanderbilt fell apart in the second half against Georgia, allowing the spelling-challenged Dawgs to rally. That could be a season-killer for the Commodores.


1. Momentum. Turn it around: The Gamecocks almost lost to North Carolina after controlling the game for the first half. A few things going wrong against Vanderbilt early could cause the team to doubt itself.

2. Quarterback controversy. Flip this as well. Dispute the methods if you want to, but keeping the identity of your quarterback under wraps hurts the other team's efforts to prepare. Nix has to have the players ready to play both.

3. It's Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt has created a reputation over the years as a team that scares the crap out of some highly-regarded SEC opponent and then falls apart in the end. One of these days, they're going to break through. Gamecocks fans hope it's not this week.

4. Earl Bennett. Even with the turmoil at quarterback, Bennett has averaged 88.3 yards a game this season and has grabbed 4 TDs. He does go up against a South Carolina pass defense allowing just 149.1 yards a game, but if he gets on a roll, it could be trouble for the Gamecocks.

5. The Year of the Upset. Anything can happen this year. Anything. This is about the only real trap game South Carolina has left. Which means it's the perfect candidate for a year in which almost every Top 10 contender has been shocked at least once.

PREDICTION: South Carolina 33, Vanderbilt 17 Bobby Johnson will try to make it interesting -- and will briefly succeed. But the Gamecocks pull away.